Josh Pigford

Josh Pigford

Maker. Dabbler. I can't stop starting things. Bearded.

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How to take control of spam & sales calls

A year or so ago, the number of spam calls I was getting on a daily basis was really getting out of hand. At its worst I was probably getting a dozen or more a day. Almost all robocalls and almost all resulted in me yelling in to the phone for this robocaller to jump in a fire.

In addition to this, I also get a pretty healthy stream of cold sales calls or calls from "account reps" of services I use (neither of which I want, FYI).

The part that makes spam and sales calls so intrusive and maddening is that phone calls themselves are very disruptive. A phone is essentially a miniature alarm clock that anyone on earth can trigger at any time of day.

Which, let's be honest, is categorically insane.

On a high level you can put your phone on silent, but there are a handful of people (namely my wife and kids) that I want to be able to call or text and get a hold of right away. But how do you let a few people through and eliminate or reduce everything else?

There are two things that I specifically do to keep all unwanted calls at bay.

Fraud/Spam Call Blocking App

I specifically use AT&T's Call Protect app and most other carrier's have their version of this as well.

AT&T Call Protect

The app essentially plays middleman and sources a central database of fraud/spam reports to decide if a given number should be blocked. If a call gets through, you can then report it yourself to help make the database better.

This probably catches 95% of spam calls.

Silent + Do Not Disturb Always On

I keep my phone on silent and turn on "Do Not Disturb" mode permanently. This wholesale blocks all notifications, calls, messages, noises and vibrations throughout the day...except for people I explicitly allow.

So, how do I do that? With a handy little iOS feature called "Emergency Bypass".

You go in to Contacts, find the person you want to allow through and edit them.

There's a section, when you're in edit mode, that allows you to set their Ringtone and Text Tone. When you tap on those, you'll see a toggle for "Emergency Bypass".

iOS Bypass

That's the thing that's important. By toggling that on, that person's call or text (depending on which of them you enable) will come through regardless of your other settings!

Those two things combined mean that no spammer, cold caller or account repper ever interrupt my day. And it's magical.

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